College isn’t advanced high school. Get this thought out of your head. A lot of times, success as a college freshman ties back down to how well you manage your time. You can be the smartest guy in the classroom (if you even show up to the classroom) but if you can’t prioritize your work what’s the point? You’re better off dropping out and investing your time and energy into something else.
You’ll get a lot of top tier high schoolers who don’t understand this reality of college. These students have become so accustomed to trying to please their teachers. They’ve worked their butt off and tried to gather as much approval so that their college application looks good. They care more about the grade and something they can add to their resume, than actually applying their knowledge.
Now because they’re about to start their college careers, it’s natural for them to think that they should continue to do the same. They’ll look at college and say to themselves: “okay now I REALLY need to work even harder!”
College doesn’t mean you should seclude yourself as much as possible for your studies. It doesn’t mean you now have to spend every waking moment studying. It doesn’t mean cut yourself off from human contact for the sake of reading a book. Don’t be like me. Don’t spend your first month as a college freshman studying by yourself without the help from your Professor’s and classmates.
I’m not telling you to be lazy.
Success in college stems from active responsibility and motivation from the student.
It’s up to the student to actively pursue what they want to get out of both college and life. An incoming college freshman needs to view university as an entirely different school system. Each class needs to be viewed as a separate puzzle that the student needs to solve.
Jordan…active learning lol wut? I spend all of time studying and doing homework by myself!
While this is no doubt part of the path to success in college, it’s not the only thing students need to do. It’s not your number one priority.
To succeed as a college freshman, you have to be self motivated to learn. If you’re learning and putting all of your effort just to get some grade, you’re doing it wrong.
Jordan…it sounds to me you’re just making an excuse to be lazy lol! I’m supposed to put in the hard work and just copy whatever my Professor tells me to memorize lolz!!
Of course, you can’t get anywhere without hard work. You have to understand that in college, the work is different as compared to high school. If you treat each assignment as just “something you need to quickly memorize and then forget” you’ll fail.
Look for ways to get ahead and collaborate with people
A lot of new students will look at their schedule and think: “wow I have so much free time!”
Yes, college allows for fewer times during the week to actually sit in a classroom with other students and your Professor. A normal semester consists of 16 credits. That’s 4 classes and about 10-15 hours a week altogether. However, this is no excuse for “free time.”
The “free time” you’re thinking of does not mean just head back to the dorm and start playing video games. In college, you have to spend way more time outside of the classroom to succeed! This means asking your classmates to meet up and study, and it means following up with your Professors to attend office hours.
Go to office hours.
I hate to tell you this, but you’ll have to use your perceived “free time” to make an appointment with your Professor to review what you learned. I didn’t take this advice initially, I thought it was just weird to meet up with your Professor one on one. In your mind you may think that all you have to do is just memorize the material on your own. You’ll be tempted to lock yourself in a room with a study guide, and not ask for help.
It’s not enough to just passively accept what the Professor tells you what to do in class. Don’t be a zombie. You need to take the time, and talk to them in person. Ask as many questions as you want from them; bug them about what will be on the next test.
This’ll save you time so you can focus on what you really need to study. Instead of just focusing on an entire study guide for example, you can ask your Professors which material will appear the most on the exam.
PARTICIPATE IN THE @#$%& CLASS!
Your first year classes will include liberal arts-based curriculum. This means that your Professor will want to encourage the class to engage in discussion and ask questions. Unfortunately, for those of you (like me) who don’t like to talk a lot during class…you’ll have to because participation will count for a grade.
These are easy points you can pick up. It may not seem like a lot now, but when you’re reviewing your grades for the semester and realize you were only a couple of points off of a grade you wanted…that’s when you’ll kick yourself. I know from personal experience.
Motivate yourself to actually want to learn
In high school you could goof off and blow off studying the night before a test. This simply won’t work in college, and it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Yes, you’ll have plenty of moments where you don’t want to wake up and go to class: “I already know the material…”
It comes down to this, if you don’t see the reason for why you’re in college (HINT: TO ACTUALLY LEARN SOMETHING FOR YOUR FUTURE!) you’ll treat it like High School. You’ll be surprised and ask yourself why you aren’t performing well if you’re doing the same thing you did in High School. The intensity of how you approached High School won’t matter as much. You have to develop an entirely new system.
Apply your knowledge
If you just accept whatever the Professor says, you won’t truly learn the material. Nothing can grow if people don’t question and argue with someones ideas.
You should fear stagnancy. If you’re not actively engaging with school as a college freshman you’re just wasting your time. Apply your knowledge and look for outside sources to help you study:
- Talk to upperclass students in your major and ask for tips
- Go submit rough drafts with your Professor and bug them until the point where they’ll want to give you a good grade so you don’t ask for help again
- Don’t work hard for your grade just to please your Professors, do it so you get the most out of your college experience
If you’re still in High School, I suggest you practice these strategies right now. That way, when you reach college you’ll have these principals mastered.
I suffered a 2.9 GPA at the end of my college freshman year. I put in countless hours studying by myself only to get lackluster results. I told myself that this would be the lowest GPA I would receive in my college career. The following semester, I bounced back and made the athletic honor roll. I even managed this while holding a part time job…something I didn’t have in my freshman year.
The reasons for why I was successful:
- I worked with my classmates together on study guides
- I asked my teammates for advice on classes they already took
- I talked more with my Professor’s and attended office hours
- I participated more in the class to learn about the material
- I viewed each class as a different puzzle
It’s easy to take a passive approach to school. Any college freshman can just show up, nod their heads “yes” to whatever the teacher says and then go home. You can go ahead and complain about the workload, or how no one is telling you how to succeed. This can’t exist in college.